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Voicelessness and Emotional Survival Message Board / Re: Health Updates
« Last post by sKePTiKal on May 22, 2023, 09:42:19 AM »
HA!!! I get it about the knife work. You know, there's no grade or test or judgement about HOW you chop things, especially when cooking for yourself, right? There's not even any culinary reason for most "instructions". I do what I call the "farm wife" chop - which is usually bigger chunks/fewer cuts...

a) I like to taste the individual veggies
b) by dinner time, often my hands ache so much I can barely hold the knife

Which is why it's so lovely when B offers to cook; even when I had planned to make dinner, sometimes I'm just all used up.

I used to have a lot of anxiety over cooking, back when we entertained a lot at the beach. It was the country club set and there was  no denying the reality that I WAS being judged; all the time. (That was how THEY grew up.) Never good enough because I wasn't brought up in that kind of environment, ya know? But I did accept the challenge and keep trying; some things were obviously easier than others.

I got pretty good at pulled pork BBQ; in a crockpot!  ;)  B sez he likes mine better than what we can get from the surrounding restaurants. And my chicken & dumplings almost always results in seconds. He can't eat seafood, but I do have a couple no-fail options for scallops & oysters. And I did finally make a passable Margarita Key Lime pie.

But it wasn't until I was on the mountain alone, that the desire to have fun with cooking returned. Now, I experiment  with recipes and do it "my way"... and while it doesn't always look "right", it usually tastes good. Hol has gone through her own challenge with cooking - making a lot of things at home, that are sold prepackaged with all kinds of preservatives & sugar in the stores. Hummus, guacamole, salsa... biscuits & gravy... pizzas... lots of baking (she made B a chocolate mousse cake that deep dark chocolate on chocolate & cacao that was to die for).

Most of success in cooking, is just practice. But I STILL get a lot of tension in my shoulders & upper back, when making some things... and I have to stop - breathe - and consciously relax/stretch a minute. No one's starving, so an extra minute or two in the prep doesn't matter.

Gardening is the same way, for me. Getting up & down, it's easy for me to get wobbly and fall. Or get my feet tangled, etc. I lower the bar for expectations on myself, by reminding "me" that it's not a race, I can rest or drink as often as I want, and it'll get "done"... when it gets done. I do it my way, in my own time, at my own pace. Owning all of the process, seems to allow me to focus on the enjoyment & lets me slip into the "zone"... and then it's not such onerous "work". The more I do... the more my stamina returns, the looser my muscles get (flexibility has never been an issue), and the more strength returns. Little tiny baby step by baby step.

Yeah, Hol rubs it in how much more she gets done, being 20 years younger. But last week, she pulled out & heated one of my comfort heating pads too. LOLOL.

I was gonna shop yesterday but I couldn't do some of my "executive tasks" until today - so I'm getting an extra "light duty" day today, to recover just a little more. Mother nature is offering up the best opportunity to get spring chores done that I've seen in a LONG  time. So, I can't take too long to  get my energy revv'd up again. Soon it'll be 85, and I'll be limited to working a few hours early in the morning & late in the evening.
Voicelessness and Emotional Survival Message Board / Re: Health Updates
« Last post by Hopalong on May 21, 2023, 04:13:24 PM »
Wise thoughts and examples, Amber, thank you!
I'm at the point where light housekeeping can require a rest, pronto.
But if I scale down your prodigiousness and ponder the end goal as you describe to stay on task, in very small chunks, it would serve me well.

Structure? I remember that word, somewhere...your self-motivation is awesome.

AD-ohlookabird!-D and all.

I was doing a recipe from a "Hello Fresh" box I ordered foolishly. Recipe wasn't bad and most ingredients okay, but the prep work required knife skills I ain't got and by the time I'd waded through washing/peeling/dicing three things and mincing another and finely chopping another I was so wiped out I got nauseous and sweaty and hadda go lie down. Part of that's anxiety but part actually physical, and I just haven't learned my body's new normal nor how to safely test its limits.

Thus, I have my marching orders. LEARN the new normal and SAFELY test the limits. I used to be more rational!

PS--I got the Emma Thompson anecdote all bollixed up but the real one is even more hilarious, especially her bit about the sheep. I adore her!
Voicelessness and Emotional Survival Message Board / Re: Health Updates
« Last post by sKePTiKal on May 21, 2023, 08:23:14 AM »
My dear Hops...
You are being so responsible and self-caring about your physical self. Aging most definitely sneaks up on us while we're living life! Just keep putting one foot in front of the other at this, and it should sort itself out.

Funny thing about fear, it doesn't JUST paralyze us or our motivations. Sometimes, it's the best motivator! Maybe you simply need to find a way to make your fear align with your goals? I firmly believe that all the emotions have vital purpose to us. But it usually takes most of a lifetime to figure all that out; experience and experimentation.

I've been hitting it pretty hard physically, this past week. B thoughtfully and thoroughly prepared my garden dirt (and Hol & I had added a generous amount of well-aged mushroom compost last year) and our spring temps have remained well in the range where I know I can go out in the sun. Another day of physical rest & recovery (with light housework and some shopping) and I'll be filling the last quadrant with the 3 sisters... and maybe zucchini & cucumbers. I'm planting herbs, too - in and among my rocks as my "dirt" supply allows, and I do have access to truckloads of topsoil. Herbs usually aren't really picky about quality of dirt, but my shale & clay are a tad "challenging" to developing plant root systems.

Then, there are the landscaping chores. But that takes a bit more strength & stamina. I be workin' up to it!!

But, there was a bit of a Jedi mind-trick I used on myself to distract me from letting my physical resistance completely stop me in my tracks. I kept my focus on the end result I wanted - the lbs of brussel sprouts and taters, the onion braids I'll make - the bee-covered herb blossoms. I WANT this; I want the plant material to set up a still room for compounding the medicines I can make. And that keeps me working at it, putting my obsessive energy to good use instead of staying "stuck". Even when the muscles and my hands start to ache & "complain".  (Maybe you can devise one tailored for yourself?)

Yep, by Friday I was 100% "done"; stick a fork in me. Without the guys here, Hol & I had worked our butts off this past week and got a LOT taken care of, for the nonce. There is always more, later, always. But this is a good baseline to start from. We're trying to visually "clear the list" of to-dos, so we have the "space" to tackle some bigger projects when the guys are available to assist.

Too much unstructured time, for her & I, turns our focus inward and becomes justification and excuse for NOT doing. So it's more of a finding a new place of balance for both types of things. Giving ourselves permission, even.
Voicelessness and Emotional Survival Message Board / Re: Things Are Going Well
« Last post by Hopalong on May 20, 2023, 02:52:42 PM »
Hope you're hanging in, (((Tupp))).

Whew. Me too, I got worried about that phrase.

Glad it's in the rear-view! You clearly work so HARD to connect with her, Amber.
Sounds like it's been paying off.

Voicelessness and Emotional Survival Message Board / Re: Health Updates
« Last post by Hopalong on May 20, 2023, 02:38:43 PM »
Well, here's what happened. Went to the fancy ENT cancer expert and he pondered all the scans, palpated, pondered more. (He was awesome; took time and enjoyed explaining it all.) Upshot: we agreed on a diagnosis and he let me name it: Sagging Salivary. LOL.

Evidently my two salivary glands are different in size, and over time one of them has gotten perceptibly bigger (and harder) than the other. And that's it. I felt like an idiot but he was laughing over the name and seemed to enjoy our convo, so I espcaped with most of my humiliated ego. He enjoyed my inspiration story though:

I saw a clip of [edit: Emma Thompson] on a British talk show (Brit humor really tickles me). She lives on an isolated farm and has a field between her house and a stream she likes to dip in most days. One evening the cops came knocking, which was unusual. "Mrs. Thompson," they explained, "we're very sorry to disturb you but there's been a report of an intruder on your land and we want to be certain all is well. A woman on a bridge down the way saw a naked man crossing your field this afternoon."

On the show she said, "I told them sometimes I like to walk naked across the field to my stream, and my breasts have sagged so much I'm sure from a distance they might be confused with testicles. All is well."

ENT doc wants me back for a followup ultrasound in 6 mnths just to be sure, but so far no biopsy and no alarm. And I've stopped poking at my neck.

Actually I AM an idiot. But I can live with it.

Meanwhile, cardiologist has decided that I may have two types of chest pain. One will kick in when I'm stressed or even asleep (the scariest) and often mornings. He believes that is not microvascular angina. The other kind, that scared me so badly alone on a walk, is during exertion, and it would be (in that instance I should head for the ER). That hasn't happened again in the same way, so I'm going to start with snail-walks with a friend and gin up courage to rebuild the progress I lost when my back went out after rehab. I have to go see an esophageal specialist to see if there's erosion or anything else going on in those tubes that could explain chest pain at rest.

I'm determined to get some answer that is more clear. I've also requested a shrink referral to see if there is ANY ADD med that's safe for cardiac-vulnerable older people (from reading, I doubt it) and likewise, if there's anything for anxiety that doesn't depress the CNS (from reading, doubt that too--but no stone unturned).

I'm trying not to obsess but really would like to understand all this better. I know that being your own advocate is key, as long as you stay rational. And keep trying to do healthy stuff and just hope it brings results. I know I should meditate, too.

Thanks for listening to my tedious medical mysteries and worries. It helps! I have a Zoom with a distant friend and a real, in-person visit from a local friend this afternoon. Those help too. I ain't giving up. (Though my darkest thoughts when I am having breathing trouble or chest pain -- do I want to live with this? -- trouble me too. Trying with the T to get to the bottom of it all. Fear is fear and I hate it.)

Today is beautiful and I feel better than I have for days. So despite alla this, I'm good.

hugs and gratitude,
Ah yes, I can where it might do. Thankfully, it's been a rare thing for a long time.

I'm trying to figure out how to be assertive without apology.. trying to not care how others perceive my withdrawl from people pleasing habits.  It is what it is.

I bounce over and around a balanced response, to be sure.

Your comment "backhand quick to fly" sent my anxiety up, likely... paraphrasing there. 


Yes, we are definitely communicating better these days. She's made me understand that she is very aware of her underlying (and not part of her public persona) sensitivities. Flashpoint explosive triggers even. Touchy... but working on them.

She's given me feedback about how my "off the cuff" comments sound to her, as a result. On the days she can't laugh at herself. She rather expects me to tap dance around those moments... LOL. But, I have told her I can try to be more aware before I open my mouth, about how a statement might - on any given day - sound to her. At least until she recovers some of her bounceback flexibility.

Perimenopause and hormonal adjustment is just such a complete & total adjustment for her. My friend Deb went through a horrible time too. I was going through my own (a lot easier) issues, when I started therapy. Maybe there's something about the changes that brings up the emotional issues too? Lets them surface? I dunno. Maybe it just highlights the insecurities and issues in new ways and at that age, it's more possible to deal with them. Even perceive them.

I'm finding all this quite interesting and I'm just as invested in this shared "process". It's not something my mom & I could ever do. She just wasn't able. But Hol & I have been doing this for years & years now. So, as it's gradually changed and gotten more serious, we've adapted. She has some big issues lurking around that peek out every now & then... but she's still not ready to pull them out & dissect them. I'm not rushing her. I can wait. And I'm certainly not "perfect"... when I screw up, she knows she has leave to tell me that without me jumping to outrage & offense so that it can rectified or explained immediately.

Well, looks like another lovely spring day here. She has a friend date this evening - fun movie & burgers at a local butcher shop. I have a flat of tomato plants to get in the dirt, if they survived the cool temp overnight. It feels like planting will not stop, this year. But I'm reminding myself that most of my herbs are perennials - and except for quantity increases, I will only need to plant once. And it's time to feed kitties.

Think I'll be able to "knock off" early today.
I really like this perception, Amber:

Hol is extremely verbal, quick to speak, extremely analytical, logical and intellectual. I still have a problem (sometimes) in fast moving conversation being able to verbalize, especially about feelings...

I get a momentary "freeze" on feelings articulation sometimes, especially when interrupted, and my therapist literally can't articulate quickly (her own natural pace, plus while I'm talking like a runaway freight train how could she?). I think now at this age, I'm sensitive to sharing with most others that at times, in some situations and not others, I know my brain is working more slowly. I'm doing my best Maggie Kuhn imitation and declaring our RIGHTS to be a tad slower or different with age, without being scrutinized for something awful. I'm also outspoken as heck about ADD, which has nothing to do with IQ but is more difficult with age. Alla that.

The hesitation to talk about it can be fear of unconscious ageism from others, as so many are inclined to think that any verbal stumbles or changes in pace are billboards for creeping senility. I DO forget things more often and some mental tasks (plus ADD coping) are more difficult these days. But this is not alarming, it's natural. I don't expect myself to carry on at the same speed forever, and yet I ain't got dementia! My poetry writing, which can get quite complex and nuanced, is better than ever these days (workshop sez so too), and a trickle-in of earned wisdom feels like a compensatory skill. Managing paperwork and calendars? Feh.

If our culture and sometimes dear ones knew how to listen to elders with patience that is just a realistic adjustment to how aging ripens, not condescension, it would be a good thing. But in this like in SO MANY things, America is woefully adolescent.

I guess with someone as smart as Hol (chip off old block) you can just educate her that somewhat slower processing indicates just a NATURAL change in your processing, not a "decline." Even if your hair is white. Or maybe your verbal processing pace is just intrinsic to who you are and always have been, so it's not even a real change. Everybody's different. In some cases it's a real problem but I believe we know the difference. (Then again, there is denial, and I have friends who pretend capacities they've lost, because to age unashamedly in America is a fearful prospect.)

Sounds like you and Hol are at peace with your process. And with who you are.

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